West Allegheny superintendent to retire

The district also approves early retirement incentive for teachers

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During his nine years as superintendent of West Allegheny School District, John S. DiSanti has handed high school diplomas to hundreds of students — including his own three children. The North Fayette resident is set to retire June 30, but he will continue to live in the district, stay active in the community and work in the education field.

“I’m proud that I was able to work and live in the district that has become so special to me,” Mr. DiSanti, 59, said. “I don’t see this as a retirement from a career. I just see it as a transition period for me to do something else.”

School board members voted 9-0 on Jan. 15 to accept Mr. DiSanti’s retirement.

“We respect his decision to retire,” board President Debbie Mirich said. “He’s made us stronger, he’s made us better. We wish him only the best.”

The school board will begin discussions next month on finding a replacement, she said.

The board also voted 9-0 to approve an early retirement incentive for teachers. The offer, effective through March 15, covers retirements at the end of the current school year and the 2014-15 school year.

To qualify, retiring teachers must be at least 55 years old with 25 years in the Public School Employees Retirement System, or 60 years old with 20 years of service.

Teachers’ union President Debbie Turici, an art teacher for 33 years, announced she will retire this year.

As head of the West Allegheny Education Association, she has enjoyed a good working relationship with the superintendent, she said.

“We’re not going to retire,” Ms. Turici told Mr. DiSanti. “We’re going to refire.”

Mr. DiSanti will leave the district when his current 3-year contract expires. His contract had been renewed twice since he was hired in January 2005.

He said the decision to retire was difficult, but he felt it was a “good time to leave on a positive note.”

“I love what I do, and I enjoy challenging myself and the staff to get better,” Mr. DiSanti said. “We’ve really been able to achieve a tremendous amount in the past nine years, and I’m very proud of that.”

Mr. DiSanti, who holds a doctorate in education administration, looked forward to traveling more and engaging in other areas of education.

“I started as a teacher and coach and a musician, and I think I’ll be doing some of those things,” he said.

Mr. DiSanti will depart before completion of some ongoing projects, such as planned renovations to McKee Elementary in North Fayette and Wilson Elementary in Findlay.

New administrative offices will be located in Wilson, and a board room there will double as a professional training center for teachers, Mr. DiSanti said.

School board members in December approved a $20 million bond issue to help fund the elementary school renovations. The vote was 8-1, with James McCarthy dissenting.

The district is expected to approve a second bond issue in the future to cover the cost of the project, which will total about $28 million to $29 million.

Mr. DiSanti’s tenure has included overseeing more than $30 million in building renovations, preparing 10 budgets, creating a cyber school and adding new courses, teachers and technology.

“I hope that people will say that my efforts in working with all of the different stakeholders have made a positive difference in the lives of kids and [in the lives of] the people that are entrusted to give kids the opportunity to realize and fulfill their dreams,” Mr. DiSanti said. “I hope people remember me for that.”

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